What is an Addiction Intervention?

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An intervention is a coordinated attempt by one or several people to get help with a substance use disorder or other serious problem.

Each year, hundreds of millions of people are impacted by the profound effects of addiction and substance use disorders. In an attempt to get the addicted person the help they need, people will often try to stage an intervention. 

What is an Intervention for Addiction?

An addiction intervention is an orchestrated attempt by one or multiple people to get a person the help they need with a substance use disorder. It directly draws the affected person’s attention to the issue. It allows those around them, including family, friends, and even colleagues, to address how the person’s substance use or behavior has impacted them.

Today, there are three major intervention models: the Arise Model, the Johnson Model, and the Systemic Family Model. Each of these strategies for intervention has its upsides and downsides. One may be more appropriate in a particular situation than another.

The Arise Intervention Model involves exposing the addicted person and their loved ones to a collaborative intervention process. Instead of being secretive, this model is open, invitational, and gradually escalates.

The Johnson Model is one of the most common intervention models. It’s where the supporters stage a confrontation with the addict. It helps to help expose them to the consequences of their actions.

The Systemic Family Model utilizes either a confrontational or invitational approach. It focuses more on the entire family, how their behavior may contribute to the affected person’s addiction, and how to deal with the problem as a family unit.

Who Would Need an Intervention?

An intervention can significantly benefit a wide variety of people facing addiction. However, interventions aren’t necessarily for everyone, and other approaches may be more beneficial for specific people than others.

Some critical scenarios exist where someone may benefit from an intervention. One of the biggest standouts is having someone you know or love which denies a problem that is obvious to everyone else. Substance use may affect their personal, professional, or academic life, and you’ve even directly discussed it with them. Still, they constantly deny the existence of an issue and maintain they’re in control.

Perhaps the person has been engaging in increasingly risky behavior. For example, maybe they’re getting behind the wheel after drinking too much or engaging in unsafe promiscuous behavior after becoming intoxicated. These can be clear signs of addiction, yet the affected person may not recognize it and try to stop it.

You may have tried presenting opportunities to help the person in the past, but they’ve refused your offers every time. They may admit to having a problem and may even realize needing help, but when it comes time to take action, they refuse to follow through. Another essential standout behavior of someone who may need an intervention is constant deception and lying. They often hide their substance use and any surrounding behavior to help avoid suspicion.

Are Interventions Successful?

The truth is, there isn’t enough complex data available on the overall efficacy of interventions, mainly because determining the effectiveness of interventions is difficult and the vast spectrum of ways that they can occur.

Generally, people struggling with addiction are more likely to actively seek out treatment after undergoing an intervention. However, interventions and even seeking treatment don’t influence the outcome of the treatment itself. Suppose an addict seeks out treatment without being committed to sobriety, as some may do in response to the potentially overwhelming feelings that come with an intervention. In that case, they may face worse outcomes.

To improve the outcome of interventions, loved ones and supporters may consider enlisting the assistance of a certified mental health professional, counselor, or interventionist to help. They can establish an intervention plan, mediate it, guide you through the process, and be there to diffuse any potential tensions that may arise. With their expert help and guidance, you can dramatically increase the chances of success for those struggling with addiction.

What if The Addiction Intervention Doesn’t Work?

While staging an intervention for an addicted loved one can help an addicted person seek out treatment and help them achieve sobriety, they’re not guaranteed to work every time. Unfortunately, despite their supporters’ best efforts and wishes, an addicted person may refuse to participate, leave treatment early, or even relapse after achieving sobriety.

However, just because an intervention didn’t work doesn’t mean there isn’t any hope for the addicted person’s future. It’s important to remember that even if an intervention is unsuccessful, you did not fail, and you need to stay on track to determine your next move. But after an unsuccessful intervention, what exactly do you do?

Don’t Give Up

One of the critical things to do after an invention fails is to use the situation as a learning opportunity. Also, think about what may have gone wrong this time and what you can do differently. Another important thing is to ensure the intervention team follows through with any conditions they may have set during the intervention. This could be including having the person move or cutting off contact and support.

As mentioned, enlisting professional help for an intervention may result in better outcomes. If an initial intervention was embarked on without any professional assistance, you might want to consider reaching out to a professional interventionist to help with the next one. They’re only there to help and can help develop a treatment plan, keep everyone on track, and keep emotions in check during an intervention. 

No matter what happens, it’s vital for you and other supporters not to give up on the person struggling with addiction or the hope of them achieving sobriety. By staging an intervention, you’ve taken a positive step in assisting their recovery, despite not getting the desired outcome. Letting them know how their actions affected you, establishing you won’t be an enabler, and allowing them to face the consequences of their actions can be a massive motivation to change.

Help for an Intervention

Addiction is a chronic condition that affects millions worldwide and those around them yearly. While trying to overcome the addiction can feel hopeless for the addicted person and their loved ones, hope is out there, and recovery is possible. 

If you’re looking for help staging an intervention, contacting a certified mental health professional, counselor, or interventionist can be a great choice. They can help establish an intervention plan, mediate it, guide you through the process, and diffuse potential tensions.

If you or someone you know is currently struggling with addiction in or around New York City, consider contacting the professionals at NYC Addiction Resources to help. They can help provide information, resources, and referrals to interventionists and other addiction treatment options in the greater NYC area.